Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Cha cha cha!

If you have lived in Park Slope you know that it is a hub for Mexican, Latin and South American food. Every other restaurant is a different Latin American country or fusion and we enjoyed tasting them all. JR quickly developed a fondness for Maduros which are sweet friend plantains and are served as a side dish in many different South American countries (in fact, a quick look at Wikipedia reveals that they are “a delicacy in Dominican Republic, Haiti, Guatemala, Ecuador, Honduras, Panama, Peru, Colombia, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Trinidad, Nicaragua and Venezuela.”) We got used to having them at least once a week, which although not healthy was quite enjoyable.

Then we moved to Cambridge, and Cambridge is to Middle East food as Park Slope is to Latin American food (look at everything I retained from my SAT prep course!) There are Indian and Middle Eastern restaurants on ever corner, and while we have been enjoying exploring them, JR was missing his Maduros. So being the dutiful wife that I am, I headed out to hunt down some plantains so I could learn to make them.

In making the first batch, I made what I am sure is a standard rookie North American mistake. I tried to use the plantain when it looked like a banana, nice a yellow without any blemishes or ugly black coloring. What a mistake, the maduros were hard as rocks and not sweet at all. We ended up throwing the whole batch out.

I did some online research and realized a plantain reaches its peak sweetness when it is black and soft. Of course the local Shaws does not carry black, mushy plantains, so this takes some advanced planning. I bought 4 plantains and kept them in my kitchen for 3 weeks while they ripened. At that point they were pretty much completely black and much easier to peel. I heated up some oil, fried those puppies up and within minutes I had some beautiful maduros. It was a super simple recipe, as long as I planned it WAY in advance, and it made my man really happy.

Plátanos Maduros
3-4 ripe plantains (heavily spotted with brown, or completely brown/black)
oil (canola, or olive)

Peel the plantains and diagonally cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices. In a large nonstick skillet heat 1/3 cup oil over moderately high heat until hot. Slowly add the plantains in batches and sauté until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes on each side, adding more oil as necessary. With a spatula or kitchen tongs transfer plantains to paper towels to drain.

Eat immediately.

No comments: